D.C. General Hospital has lost its third and final appeal for reaccreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, according to D.C. Department of Human Resources officials who charged yesterday that the denial was unjustified.
The rejection by JCAH was revealed yesterday at a hearing on DHR's $290 million fiscal year 1978 budget request before the House District Appropriations Subcommittee.
During discussion of the hospital, subcommittee Chairman William H. Natcher (D-Ky.) also voiced strong opposition to a City Council measure to remove D.C. General from DHR control. That measure is now pending in Congress.
DHR officials said numerous improvements have been made at the hospital since it was first rejected by JCAH in December, 1975, and at least one year's accreditation should have been granted.
Although they acknowledged that some of the deficiencies noted by JCAH surveyers have not been fully corrected, DHR officials questioned JCAH motives for continued disapproval of the facility.
Acting DHR director Albert P. Russo called the latest denial a "gross injustice." He said there are "many subtleties" behind the action but told Natcher he preferred to discuss them "privately."
According to William J. Washington, DHR's health and hospitals administrator, the facility has "totally resolved" three of the six remaining deficiencies listed by JCAH and "substantially resolved" the rest.
Washington said none of the shortcomings is "critical or goes to the heart of quality of care," at D.C. General. For example, he said, JCAH criticized the 1,300 incomplete patient records found during its 1976 survey. Another Washington hospital had 5,000 incomplete records and yet received JCAH approval, he said. He did not name the other hospital.
JCAH accreditation, the seal of approval for hospitals nationally, was first denied D.C. General in December, 1975. The hospital was again rejected last August, following a resurvey in May, 1976. The latest denial was based on a third appeal of the August decision.
JCAH regulations usually require a six-month wait before a disapproved facility can be resurveyed, but that rule was waived for D.C. General in a telegram sent to DHR last Saturday.
On the City Council measure wresting D.C. General from DHR control, Natcher surprised some District officials yesterday when he sided with DHR in objection to placing the hospital under an independent commission.
"I'm just wondering if this is a matter of just washing your hands of it," Natcher said to Polly Shackleton, who chairs the City Council committee on human resources and aging.
Natcher questioned specifically a provision in the bill requiring that no city government representative sit on the 11-member hospital commission.
"With that provision in it, it will never work," Natcher said.
Shackleton said the Council felt the hospital would be improved by having its personnel, financing, supply system and other elements severed fom the bureaucracy of DHR. She noted that the House District Committee, now considering the bill, which was approved by the Council over Mayor Walter E. Washington's veto, has never previously disapproved a Council measure.